Summary and book reviews of A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk

A Strangeness in My Mind

by Orhan Pamuk

A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk X
A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2015, 624 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2016, 624 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A modern epic of coming of age in a great city, a brilliant tableau of life among the newcomers who have changed the face of Istanbul over the past fifty years.

Since his boyhood in a poor village in Central Anatolia, Mevlut Karata has fantasized about what his life would become. Not getting as far in school as he'd hoped, at the age of twelve he comes to Istanbul - "the center of the world" - and is immediately enthralled by both the old city that is disappearing and the new one that is fast being built. He follows his father's trade, selling boza (a traditional mildly alcoholic Turkish drink) on the street, and hoping to become rich, like other villagers who have settled the desolate hills outside the booming metropolis. But luck never seems to be on Mevlut's side. As he watches his relations settle down and make their fortunes, he spends three years writing love letters to a girl he saw just once at a wedding, only to elope by mistake with her sister. And though he grows to cherish his wife and the family they have, he stumbles toward middle age in a series of jobs leading nowhere. His sense of missing something leads him sometimes to the politics of his friends and intermittently to the teachings of a charismatic religious guide. But every evening, without fail, Mevlut still wanders the streets of Istanbul, selling boza and wondering at the "strangeness" in his mind, the sensation that makes him feel different from everyone else, until fortune conspires once more to let him understand at last what it is he has always yearned for.

Told from different perspectives by a host of beguiling characters, A Strangeness in My Mind is a modern epic of coming of age in a great city, a brilliant tableau of life among the newcomers who have changed the face of Istanbul over the past fifty years. Here is a mesmerizing story of human longing, sure to take its place among Pamuk's finest achievements.

The publisher is unable to provide an excerpt of this book to BookBrowse for copyright reasons. But a substantial excerpt is available at Google Books

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

A Strangeness In My Mind brilliantly illuminates the difference between the happiness and contentment — for between these states of mind lies an entirely different mindset and attitude toward life that can make or break a man. And Mevlut, just like his beloved Istanbul, is nothing if not resilient — he knows how to take change squarely in the jaw and yet retain his essential indomitable spirit.   (Reviewed by Poornima Apte).

Full Review (954 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

Media Reviews

The Boston Globe
In the midst of the massive sprawl that is Istanbul, at the juncture of West and East, Pamuk uses a bickering crowd of family and friends to tell the story of a factious, ever-changing culture and its many points of discord.

The New York Times Book Review
It’s very funny, while also allowing into Mevlut’s tale the colorful voices and contending perspectives of the world around him . . . For Pamuk the vision of life as a complex web of knowable things provides a terrifically interesting way to write a book.

The Washington Post
One of Pamuk’s most enjoyable novels and an ideal place to begin for readers who want to get to know him . . . A love letter to modern Turkey.

The Chicago Tribune
Pamuk is such a skilled writer that he renders the most esoteric, seemingly banal topics fascinating . . . Strangeness is light and funny. Pamuk's perspective is generous. He takes a long view of history . . . a remarkable feat.

The Economist (UK)
A textured and rewarding narrative . . . Some of the most memorable chapters are interior monologues from women who, every day, must negotiate defiance and deferral to their men and their in-laws . . . [Pamuk] chooses multiple perspectives over moral judgment, which allows him to focus on the inner lives of his characters as they shape the city that, in turn, shapes them.

The Financial Times (UK)
Beautifully done, suffused with a nostalgic light . . . A study of urban modernisation and a lament for a time before the single-mindedness of reformers.

The Independent (UK)
Magnificent . . . [a] sprawling story that Pamuk tells, and Ekin Oklap translates, with panache . . . At the same time as posing philosophical questions about the importance of intentions over outcomes, Pamuk celebrates marriage, parenthood and even quarrelsome extended family . . . [He] is becoming that rare author who writes his best books after winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The Guardian (UK)
Above all a love letter to the city in all its faded, messy, dusty glory . . . a vast collection of characters, events, houses, food, objects that, the reader realises at the end of 600 pages, are summed up in the name Istanbul.

The Sunday Times (UK)
Warm and gently engrossing . . . the story of modern Istanbul, of how a decaying, mixed, cosmopolitan city has been massively expanded and transformed by poor migrants from Anatolia. It has a political dimension . . . but at its heart, this is a novel about work, love and family.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This is a thoroughly immersive journey through the arteries of Pamuk's culturally rich yet politically volatile and class- and gender-divided homeland.

Booklist
Starred Review. As his meditative hero walks the streets for five decades, balancing his wooden yoke on his shoulders, Pamuk, a deeply compassionate and poetic writer, illuminates 'dreadful and dazzling' Istanbul's violent upheavals and ceaseless metamorphosis, women's struggles for freedom, and the strange vicissitudes of love.

Library Journal
Starred Review. Although depicting a faraway land, the novel's central concerns are human nature, communication, and interpersonal relationships, and this great writer explores these themes with a universal warmth, wit, and intelligence.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Rich, complex, and pulsing with urban life: one of this gifted writer's best.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Cyprus: Divided Loyalties

One of the many historical events that are featured glancingly in A Strangeness in My Mind is the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

Cypriot demonstrationFor a long time Cyprus was a part of the Ottoman Empire, which arguably explains why Turkey considered it its own, even after the Ottoman Empire handed over governance of the island to Great Britain in 1878 in a secret agreement that exchanged Cyprus for Britain's support of the Ottoman's cause in settling boundary issues in the Balkans. In 1914 Britain annexed Cyprus and, following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, Cyprus became a Crown Colony in 1925.

Cyprus's mix of ethnic Greeks and Turks lived in shaky peace as a British colony, but increasing nationalistic rhetoric from both Turkey and Greece ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Orhan Pamuk

If you liked A Strangeness in My Mind, try these:

  • The Gardens of Consolation jacket

    The Gardens of Consolation

    by Parisa Reza

    Published 2016

    About this book

    Against the backdrop of a rapidly changing Iran, Parisa Reza has written a powerful love story filled with scenes of hope and heartbreak.

  • A Brief History of Seven Killings jacket

    A Brief History of Seven Killings

    by Marlon Jones

    Published 2015

    About this book

    Winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize. Brilliantly inventive and stunningly ambitious, this novel is a revealing modern epic spanning Kingston in the '70s, the crack wars in '80s New York, and a radically altered Jamaica in the '90s.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Vita Nostra
    Vita Nostra
    by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko
    Vita Nostra by Ukrainian authors Sergey and Marina Dyachenko is one of those novels that defies ...
  • Book Jacket: And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    by Patrick Ness
    Patrick Ness has developed a reputation for experimental literature executed well, and his latest, ...
  • Book Jacket: Let It Bang
    Let It Bang
    by RJ Young
    Every interracial love story is an exercise in complications. R.J. Young and Lizzie Stafford's ...
  • Book Jacket: A Spark of Light
    A Spark of Light
    by Jodi Picoult
    The central premise of A Spark of Light involves a gunman holding hostages within the confines of a ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Unsheltered
by Barbara Kingsolver

A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Paris Echo
    by Sebastian Faulks

    A story of resistance, complicity, and an unlikely, transformative friendship.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    A Ladder to the Sky
    by John Boyne

    A seductive, unputdownable psychodrama following one brilliant, ruthless man.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Severance

Severance by Ling Ma

An offbeat, wryly funny, apocalyptic satire that is featured on more than twenty 2018 "Must Read" lists!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Ain't O U T F L S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.